Location-sharing Waldo takes different approach from Swarm

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Waldo screenshot

Many have tried pushing location-sharing services to the mainstream and pretty much all attempts have failed. Almost on the brink of true success, Foursquare and Swarm arguably has yet to capture the interest of the masses. Even Apple tried with Find My Friends and didn't get very far with it. Armed with a slightly different approach to sharing location, Waldo emphasizes a mixture of both location and photo sharing that's more direct with friends than merely broadcasting where you are. The social networking app is free for iPhone, requiring iOS 7.0 or later.

Despite taking a unique approach to location-sharing, it appears Waldo at least took a glance at Foursquare - especially the new redesign - and used it as a foundation. The design structure is reminiscent of Foursquare's while the color scheme seems to take a page from Swarm's book.

Straight out of the gate, Waldo wants to use your location in the background and send you push notifications. These are crucial to the functionality of the app. The app uses your location in the background because it's constantly monitoring your location for sharing. In fact, when you open the app after the initial setup, it asks you to specify what type of location you're at: home, work, school, etc.

Waldo screenshot

At the top of the app is a placeholder for an image. Eventually, that'll become whatever image you snap with your camera. This is because on top of just mindlessly sharing your location with friends, Waldo encourages sharing images so your friends know about your travels and get to paint a picture of what you're up to. If you tap this area, the app takes a photo and keeps it as a header image of sorts. Waldo also includes optional auto-upload, but that's prone to backfire.

These photos are also used as the backgrounds for each your friends listed in the app, which are sorted by the most recently active. Three gestures dominate these tiles and most of the interactivity that takes place within Waldo. Swiping left on someone's name sends your location directly to them, swiping right sends them a request to update their location and tapping and holding on the name sends an "a-okay" (read: like) on the status.

It's an interesting concept and ensures socialization within the app instead of just relying on background location sharing, which is essentially what Swarm does.

None of my friends were on Waldo already. If this is the case, the app asks you to select some of your top friends and it cleverly displays them. If you try to interact with them (like send or request locations) it sends an invite via text message to get them to join. I found this out when my friend sent me a screenshot asking "Uh, what is this?"

Waldo screenshot

Waldo is basically like Swarm, but with more and arguably better features.It ditches the egocentric stamps in favor of actual human interaction with peers. Plus it does so with solid design and minimal effort on the end user's part, so long as you don't mind the background location draining your battery a tad more. Waldo just needs to recruit some tastemakers to use the app and get everyone else on board. If you want to be one of them, download the iPhone app for free.
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